Micromanager

Ryan Archibald
Ryan Archibald
If you’re asking yourself why your boss is excessively involved in everything you do, you may be dealing with a micromanager. Read on to learn about the impact micromanagers have on their employees, how to identify micromanagers and what to do after a manager is identified as a micromanager.

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What Is a Micromanager?

A micromanager is a boss or manager who excessively supervises an employee.

Micromanager Versus Macromanager

While a micromanager overly supervises employees, a macromanager is “hands off” and lets their employees do their job while completing their own tasks at a higher, more strategic level.

Micromanagement should never be practiced in any department. New employees need some direction while onboarding and learning new responsibilities but not to the extent micromanagers take it. Any experienced employees will loathe working under constant supervision.

Macromanagers will succeed leading teams of experienced employees who need little to no direction. Experienced employees will enjoy the freedom and empowerment of working through problems on their own.

How Micromanagers Affect an Organization

Micromanagement immediately decreases productivity due to constant tweaking and getting involved in the work of their employees. In addition to decreased productivity, the overinvolvement of a manager will increase the stress of their employees and, if the situation goes unaddressed, increase employee turnover.

Advantages of Micromanagers

You may be wondering why a manager might engage in such hyperactive attention to duties they’ve already delegated. While micromanagers seem to take the fun out of work, there is one advantage to consider. Micromanagers can easily ensure operational processes are followed and monitor output. Of course, this single advantage comes at a hefty cost.

Disadvantages of Micromanagers

The problem of micromanagers should not be overlooked. The disadvantages of micromanagers have the biggest impact on employees.

  • Team resentment increases. The employees reporting to micromanagers will become resentful and disloyal to the company. If they do not leave the organization, they may cause serious harm to the reputation of the organization.
  • Trust decreases. Employees believe micromanagers do not trust them. Lack of trust can be labeled as a lack of appreciation. This situation then leads to a workforce who will wait to be told what to do or spend their time looking for employment elsewhere.
  • Workforce abilities diminish. Micromanagement is doing someone else’s job for them which halts the development of their team. Therefore, the micromanager’s team will not be able to meet the goals of the organization because of the slowdown in the process.
  • Teams stagnate. The employees who interact with a micromanager, after becoming resentful, ultimately stop thinking or visualizing the impact of their work on the organization.

Signs That You Are Dealing With a Micromanager

Micromanagers have a negative impact on every employee underneath them. If your manager is showing signs of being a micromanager it is better to know before your own well-being is compromised. Look for these tell-tale signs of a micromanager.

Lost in the Details

These managers are consumed with ensuring every detail is completed by them and no one else. The problem with being too closely detailed is that they lose sight of the big picture and their role in the overall business strategy.

Approval To Get Approval

Micromanagers loathe the idea of giving their teams autonomy or the ability to make decisions on their own. Therefore, these managers require their employees to get approval to complete almost any task. The worst of micromanagers may even require their employees to get approval to use the restroom.

Updates on Everything

When micromanagers aren’t approving employees’ every move, they’re requesting updates in order to keep their control on an entire process so they can quickly make changes as needed.

Delegation?

Micromanagers will refuse to delegate tasks to their team or others because they can complete it better and more efficiently. This leaves employees sitting at their desks wondering if they are allowed to work on the tasks they were hired to do.

Control Over Email

Micromanagers have a deep-rooted need to be kept in the loop regarding communication as well as process. Being included in every email allows the manager to prevent employees from making decisions on their own and discussing anything they should not be discussing.

Overly Complicate the Simplest Tasks

Obsessed with control, these managers will add extra hoops to jump through in order to complete the simplest of tasks. Micromanagers are not concerned with productivity, so these extra hoops to jump through may lower team productivity.

Pride Complex

These managers overestimate their own ability and often underestimate the ability of their team. Micromanagers will complete almost everything on their own. This leads to their team wondering if they made the right decision joining the organization.

How To Manage a Micromanager

It is frustrating to know what to do when you learn your manager is micromanaging. The following steps can help you begin to claim some of the autonomy we all want at work.

Tip 1: Understanding Their Mindset

The micromanager may be acting out of fear from their own insecurities as a manager. However, as a new employee you may need to play along in order to build trust with them. Keep them in the loop and ask for approval when it is deemed necessary.

When you meet with your manager ensure they know you are excited to help them and the team succeed. As you maintain this conversation, add in phrases similar to, “Thank you for trusting me with this,” which will help build a working relationship with your manager.

Tip 2: Keep a Log of Interactions

Your micromanager may not know the spontaneous nature of their conversations with employees. Keep a log of those conversations and then present it to them and ask if you can standardize those check-ins with your manager to avoid distractions or impact on productivity.

Whether it is a notebook or a record on your computer, keep track of the dates of each conversation and what was discussed with your manager. Check this record after 30 days to see how much time you spend speaking with your manager and completing work asked of you. This will be the crucial data to support your case if/when you ask for more autonomy. It will be difficult for a micromanager to refute your request with data supporting you.

Tip 3: Build Trust

This step depends on your micromanager. You can work to build trust organically by following their directions, but you may need to come right out and ask how to build more trust with them. Hopefully they will respond with specific action items you can follow up on.

Every request will require prompt action from you to show your micromanager that you can be trusted. Give this 30 days and determine if you are being given more responsibilities. If not, ask your micromanager how to build trust with them. If they get angry with you, then it is not a positive working environment and further action is needed. Include their manager and ask them what they recommend. Their manager may need to coach your micromanager on leading better.

Tip 4: Request Space

Simply ask for some space from your manager in order to be productive. Choose your words carefully to respect the micromanager but insist that giving you space will help you be more productive.

Last resort, you have your record of conversations and you gave your best effort to earn their trust to gain more autonomy with no success. Now you need to schedule time with your micromanager and state your case:

  • Go through every conversation with them and the efforts you gave to earn their trust and manage the workload.
  • Explain what can happen with more autonomy, describing the increased productivity and routine check-in with the manager. Spending less time with spontaneous conversations and more time working will lead to a better working relationship.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Micromanagers

Do micromanagers affect the culture of a workplace?
Yes, micromanagers create a culture of authoritarian management and lack of trust in employees. This results in resentful and stagnant employees.
Are teams managed by a micromanager more productive?
No, teams are less productive with micromanagers.
What is an example of micromanaging?
A common example of micromanaging is a manager requiring every employee to cc them on emails.
Why do managers micromanage?
Typically, managers micromanage out of fear or lack of confidence in their own abilities. They hide this vulnerability by controlling everything they can.
Ryan Archibald
Ryan Archibald

Ryan is an HR Director with four years of experience and three masters degrees. One accomplishment he is proud of is the design and launch of a learning and development program for 800+ employees.

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